Friday Rewind – In-app purchases, Passwords, Report it and the Daily Show

rewindHappy Friday!

Every Friday, I am answering your questions and sharing helpful blogs and resources. Today, we are talking about In-app purchases, passwords, reporting online abuse and the Daily Show.

In-app purchases

This week, Apple agreed to pay 32.5 million for allowing kids to rack of purchases of virtual items within an app without a parent’s permission. After parents entered their password and bought the app, their child had an open window of 15 minutes to buy stuff without reentering the password. If your one of these parents, Apple should be contacting you with how to get a refund for unauthorized purchases by kids. To prevent future unauthorized purchases, check out Commonsense Media’s 4 ways to prevent in app purchases for Apple devices.

Apple is not alone. Consumer Reports found that Google Play allows a child to spend for up to 30 minutes without having to re-enter a passwordFor us Android users, there is no way to turn off Google Play’s grace period. After purchasing an app or game on Google Play, you have 15 minutes for a full refund BUT this 15-minute refund period does not apply to in-app purchases. If you want a refund on the magical sword, you need to contact the developer. No word yet on if the FTC is investigating Google Play. For now, you may want to hang out with your kid for 30 minutes and talk with them about how not everything in a free app is free.

 Most Popular Passwords for 2013

Guess my Password Game is one of my most popular posts. When I first played it with my kid, I guessed her password right away. Yes, her password was one of the top 10 most popular passwords. This week, I updated my game to include the most popular passwords for 2013. It is almost identical to my original list except a bit longer. For instance, 1234 is now 123456. Passwords are getting longer; now we need to work on making them stronger.

 Reporting Online Abuse

The Cyberbullying Research Center has a list of popular apps and how to report online abuse for each one. This is a great resource for parents. It is important for us to let these companies know what is happening so they can address the problem and limit this harmful activity. Bookmark Report It.

Daily Show Privacy

Not often does one of my favorite TV shows and privacy collide, but it did this week. Check out Jon Stewart and Therese author Theresa Payton discussing her new book Privacy in the Age of Big Data.

totlol password

Totlol – a kids safe video site created by parents

totlol iconTotlol is a safe video site for kids built by parents for parents. The idea for Totlol came about after Michael Avni, one of the founders and father of 3, discovered that even after setting parental controls on all of his computers and mobile devices, his little girl still stumbled upon an inappropriate video. 

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. Kapersky Lab found that kids, clicking on YouTube’s suggested videos displayed beside children’s programs, were just three clicks away from adult content. In 3 clicks, kids can go from counting Elmo to swearing Elmo. YouTube’s safety mode helps, but with 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, it is impossible to check every video. This is where Totlol comes in.

Totlol is a free curated video site for kids under 12.  Instead of trying to block inappropriate content, Totlol starts by uploading only kids safe videos. Who decides what videos to upload? Parents.

To find out more about how Totlol works, I talked with Tiffany Stelman, CEO. She explained to me about how they go to great lengths to ensure every video is kid-safe. “Currently everyone can upload videos but before they enter our database of videos, we are the final hurdle of approval, so every video is going through us.”

Parents not only upload videos, they also rate them. If parents disagree about what videos a 10 year old can watch, Tiffany says they can flag the video. “When a parent thinks a videos isn’t appropriate for that age group they can flag this specific video, which sends a warning to us and we check it.  We consult child experts and make the call whether we should ban this video or not.  However, any user can build his or hers own ‘favorites’ list which will include ONLY their approved videos.” Continue reading


Parent Ed Night: Bullying and Cyberbullying in Middle School

Middle school is tough. Suddenly, your little kid is almost as tall as you. They greet all family activities with an eye roll and a heavy sigh. Every time you look at them they are texting their friends. There always seems to be some sort of drama happening at the middle school. Someone said something or someone was upset because they were not invited somewhere.

Today, cliques and drama are not limited to the school halls. It goes on 24/7 with the pictures of the party they were not invited to on Instagram or the list of the 5 prettiest girls/cutest boys on Facebook. And sometimes, middle school drama can escalate to the point where a kid feels powerless and bullied. According to the School District’s 2012 Healthy Youth Survey, 27% of 6th graders and 24% of 8th graders at IMS reported being bullied in the last 30 days.


On May 16th, the IMS PTA is hosting a parent education night to discuss bullying and cyberbullying. We will be using the book Sticks & Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon to guide our discussion. We will talk about the stories in the book, and we will explore how we teach our kids empathy, foster resilience and create an accepting community. The challenge is how to do this in the age of the internet, where peer relationships and social jockeying occurs 24/7.

We are using excerpts from the book to kick off our discussion, but you are not expected to have read it. Some of the ideas, we will be discussing are:

Continue reading

security phone

5 Ways to Protect your Kid’s Phone

Privacy and security go hand in hand. This is especially true with a kid’s mobile phone. Their phone contains lots of personal information that anyone who has access to it can see. In order to keep their information private, kids need to keep their device secure. With kids, the two big security issues are losing their phone or downloading a bad app.

According to Lookout, 30 billion phones are lost a year. In Seattle, we lose our phones on average twice a year. So far, my kids have not lost of device although one did go through the washer and dryer. But, at some point someone is going to lose a phone. Anyone who finds their phone will have access to their information such as contacts, pictures and messages as well as their open accounts such as Twitter, or Facebook.

The other threat kids may encounter is downloading a bad app. A report by McAfee found 1 in 6 mobile apps contain malware or spyware. Kids who love to download apps may end up with one of these characters. These malicious apps can do anything from sending annoying pop up ads to stealing personal information.

To protect privacy, make sure your kids are implementing these simple security tips. Continue reading